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Contact Centre Disruption – Welcome Amazon Connect

The concept of “disruptive innovation” has been the talk amongst management in the last couple of decades. The idea is that a new technology or service challenges traditional ways of working or business models to ultimately disrupt the comfortable position enjoyed by the market leaders or incumbents.

There is quite possibly a bit of that going on right now in the contact centre technology world courtesy of Amazon and its latest entry into the B2B technology space, with the Amazon Connect contact centre on demand service.

If you’ve been in the contact centre industry as long as the team at CoolHarbour has, then you’ll know that disruption in this market has been long overdue. Whilst there’s no shortage of credible technology vendors – their offerings, business models and modi operandi appear to have come off the same production line. Whether or not Amazon Connect is truly disruptive, only time will tell. However what is guaranteed is that things are about to get more interesting for existing market players.

It’s the disruptive mind-set not technology

CoolHarbour has been working closely with the Amazon Connect team, since the launch of the service in April, and what strikes us is that the potential market disruption will be less about its technology but more about its mind-set and approach to conducting business.

  • They’re not interested in building an “all singing, all dancing” set of software and expecting businesses to fork out inordinate sums in licencing and maintenance charges for something that they are only going to use 25% of.
  • Nor are they interested in going through drawn out RFP processes, on the basis that by the time they’re completed the business environment and requirements will have moved on.
  • They are not naïve to expect businesses to simply write off their historical investments in other technologies and infrastructure.
  • And they definitely don’t see the value in getting involved in a feature/functionality bake-offs as it serves no purpose to the end customer.

Instead they’re providing businesses with a canvas to paint their own customer service picture at their own pace. In the form of a highly available, core call routing platform with the ability for businesses to call upon a rich set of services and APIs to build a customised customer contact management layer. Their conversations with businesses all centre around – “Give us a real business problem we can solve for you right now”. They then work with the customer to solve this problem with minimum fuss and upheaval, build confidence in their platform and equip the customer with the capabilities to continue to build on it. Not only do they solve the problem, but solve it in hours or days where other solutions would do the same in weeks or months.

Add to it the fact that Amazon Connect is:

  • the only contact centre cloud service that has a pure usage based billing model – so you pay based on calls handled and not for agents using the platform (like other vendors),
  • proven homegrown technology that Amazon has been using itself for almost 10 years with thousands of simultaneous contact centre agents across the globe already using this service, and
  • developed on the market leading AWS platform, offering unmatched enterprise grade availability that AWS customers are accustomed to,

and you start to appreciate why it’s already gaining huge traction within only a few months of its launch.

Who is Amazon Connect aimed at?

It might be easier if we highlight the characteristics of an organisation that in all likelihood WON’T be a typical customer of Amazon Connect any time soon.

  • you consider your contact centre requirements as ‘sophisticated’ or ‘complex’ (whatever it is that means
  • are comfortable with being tied into long term service and maintenance contracts with technology vendors or service providers
  • can accept the risk associated with using proprietary technology (as opposed to open APIs)
  • have a policy to own and manage all technology assets
  • are privileged enough to have the cash reserves to procure upfront all the software and hardware required for your CC infrastructure, as well as fund the frequent upgrade paths for these
  • are generally averse to change because your management would prefer to stick to a formula that has worked in the past
  • have a rigid procurement process that can take longer than the actual implementation of the technology that is being procured
  • have the operational budget to pay for an army of consultants, engineers and developers to simply keep the technology going
  • can wait weeks or even months to respond to on-going changes in business requirements

If your organisation ticks any of the above boxes, then, well, feel free to click away as there’s nothing to see here!

If you’re still reading, then we’re talking because your organisation can definitely benefit from Amazon Connect. In particular, you should consider Amazon Connect in the following scenarios:

  • Are looking to launch a new product or service and need to quickly provision a customer service platform to handle incoming product sales and services queries.
  • You are expecting a seasonal peak or surge in incoming call traffic, and need to add additional capacity for a short period of time, while always only paying for what you use and not what you don’t.
  • Want to expand your physical geographical presence without having to worry about the technology elements.
  • Are worried about your reliance on outdated or proprietary infrastructure/software, and want to slowly reduce your reliance on these legacy PBX/IVR/CC systems.
  • Are due an upgrade of your contact centre platform and are staring at a long and expensive upgrade cycle.
  • Want to move your IT headcount from the management of infrastructure/software into a DevOps environment where they can add more value to the core business.

Are you ready to start your Amazon Connect journey?

Well if you’re still not already chomping at the bit to try out Amazon Connect for your own contact centre or customer service environments, then I guess we’ve done a pretty poor job of getting you excited. If it isn’t too obvious, we’re definitely excited because we have already seen the response from customers as to how easy it is to start addressing key customer service issues without having to worry about the cost of change and experimenting.

In fact we have made a significant investment in our capabilities to support what we believe will be a groundswell of demand generated by Amazon Connect. When the service was first launched in late March, we were one of the first few business partners to send representatives to Amazon’s mothership in Seattle to get a close look at the platform. This was followed up by further training recently in the UK. As a result, we’re probably amongst only a handful of partners with a significant number of trained Amazon Connect practitioners in the UK. What’s more important though, is that our team is rich in contact centre operational knowledge that we’ve leveraged to develop quick start services packages for different contact centre scenarios. These will be available on the AWS Marketplace in the near future.

If you’re considering starting your Amazon Connect journey then our advice would be to choose a department, function or service where you can experiment with new ways of handling incoming calls. Of course you must always keep an eye on the bigger picture so that once you’ve successfully completed your proof of concept, you are able scale up to accommodate or co-exist with the wider business processes and systems. Remember there is a 12-month free tier service to get you started and you will only be paying for what you use in terms of calls. And along the journey be sure to tap into our wider contact centre technology and operations experience to help you integrate Amazon Connect with existing business processes.

In our next blog we will be taking a closer look at the key services available within the Amazon Connect platform.

We’ve only just begun….

* Watch this video to get an introduction to the Amazon Connect service.

 

* If you want to play with Amazon Connect visit the Amazon Connect web site to claim your 1 year free-tier subscription at: https://aws.amazon.com/free/

* However, if you want some help to put together a Proof of Concept to see what Amazon Connect can do for you, give us a call on +44 20 3870 0900 or email me directly on fkhan@coolharbour.com.

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